On this week’s Voices of Wrestling flagship podcast, myself and “substitute Joe” Joe Gagne (@JoeGagne) discussed Jimmy and Jey Uso’s insane longevity as a WWE tag team. In just over a week, on June 4, 2017, the Usos will have had seven years as a regular tag team in the company. This discussion got some people, including DKP podcast host and friend of the site Alan Counihan thinking:
— Alan (@Alan4L) May 25, 2017
Let’s see if we can answer Alan’s question. (Special thanks to Cagematch.net for providing the data used in research of this piece)
The Usos made their WWE television debut on June 14, 2010 defeating Goldust & Mark Henry on an episode of WWE Superstars.
In terms of straight tag matches (two vs. two, multi-team) the duo has 241 TV & PPV matches over their nearly seven years in the company. If we include house shows that number balloons to 587 and their debut bumps back a few weeks to aforementioned June 4, 2010, when they made their live event debut against The Hart Dynasty (Tyson Kidd & Davey Boy Smith Jr.). That’s their resume, let’s see if anyone else can stack up.
When Alan initially posed the questions, the two responses he received the most were The Hardy Boyz and The Hart Foundation so let’s look at those two right now.
The Hardy Boyz
Using the same criteria (straight tag matches on TV & PPV) the Hardys have 203 matches, or 38 less than the Usos. If we include house shows, the number rises to 451, over 130 matches less than the Usos.
In terms of years, The Hardyz teamed consecutively from 1997-2002. If we’re being fair, I wouldn’t count the Hardyz as a full rostered team until 1998 when they officially signed with WWE. It doesn’t matter though, even if we use 1997 as their start date, those five years don’t match the nearly seven Jimmy and Jey have accumulated.
The Hart Foundation
The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart) made their WWE debut on March 26, 1985 defeating the stalwart team of Mario Mancini & SD Jones on an episode of WWF Championship Wrestling. The duo broke up for good in July of 1991 after they were unsuccessful in unseating then-champion The Nasty Boys.
That gives the Hart Foundation an impressive six year run, definitely a valiant effort but still short of the Usos.
In terms of total number of matches, The Hart Foundation come in at 185 TV & PPV matches, well below the Uso’s 241. Anyone will knowledge of the late 80s/early 90s-era of WWE knows guys worked insane house show schedules and the numbers bear that out. Despite only wrestling as a team for six years, The Hart Foundation blows away the Usos in total matches (TV, PPV and house shows) with 639. Still, we’re looking for longevity so while the Hart Foundation may have them beat in matches, we have to dig a little deeper.
Let’s look at some other contenders and see how they stack up.
Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty had a great run and even if we count their VERY brief run in 1987, they fall short as they became a full-time WWF team in 1988 and famously broke up in 1991. They accumulated an impressive 121 TV & PPV matches in that time and added an additional 327 in house shows.
If we wanted to get real weird we could count the duo’s one-off in 2005 but, no.
The Legion of Doom
We have to make a few leaps to get these guys on the list but, what the hell, we’re getting desperate here. The Road Warriors debuted with WWE in 1990 but were gone by late summer 1992 — only two years. The duo returned in 1997 but once again we through teaming regularly by early 1999, once again only two years. Even if we combine those two reigns, they still fall well short of The Usos.
Edge & Christian
The Canadian tandem debuted as members of Gangrel’s Brood in December 1998. They had one of the better runs of any tag team in WWE history, ultimately ending during the WCW/ECW Invasion in the summer of 2001. They linked back up at various points in both 2005 and 2011 but only for two matches.
The New Age Outlaws
Billy Gunn and “Road Dogg” Jesse James made their pairing official on October 20, 1997 defeating The Headbangers. The duo would team regularly until February 27 (a great day when some of the greatest people in this world were born, by the way), 2000. A worthy three years, but not seven. They’d link back up in 2013 and have another brief run but neither single tenure comes close to The Usos.
We’re going strictly Ax & Smash for this one. They kicked off their WWE run in January 1987, ending in November 1990.
The British Bulldogs
Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid debuted in October 1984, ending their run in November 1988. Close, but nope.
The Wild Samoans
Almost there… Afa & Sika debuted January 1, 1980 (Happy New Year!) and ended their run officially in January 1985.
The Nasty Boys
No chance they would be contenders but let’s go for it anyway. They started with the company in December 1990 and packed their bags in April 1993.
This is getting exhausting. Maybe we should just give the crown to Jimmy & Jey? In a last ditch effort, I reached out to some of our Twitter followers to see if maybe there was a team I was missing:
Miguel Perez & Antonio Rocca
@voiceswrestling Perez/Rocca maybe?
— Jonathan Snowden (@JESnowden) May 26, 2017
As far as I can tell, Perez & Rocca only had a three-year run in the company. Obviously a dynamic team, they left an indelible mark on the company and regularly main-evented MSG shows during their brief but memorable run.
The Bella Twins
@voiceswrestling I mean… do the Bella Twins count?
— Josh Robinson (@MisterJoshDude) May 26, 2017
Of course they do. Bellas debuted in November 2008 and regularly teamed with one another until October 2015. Of course, they did miss a full year (April 2012-March 2013) so we do have to keep that in mind when looking at their run.
Even if we ignore that period of time they missed, that puts them just under seven years. That’s neck and neck with the Usos, who will pass seven years in a few weeks. Close but no cigar.
This is one I would not have initially thought of so good call. Still, without them regularly teaming anymore, The Usos are still on top.
The Brothers of Destruction
— lifeform (@lithiumproject) May 26, 2017
Hmmm… what do we do with these guys? They had brief runs in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and a one-off in 2015. The problem is between periods of teaming with one another they feuded, set each other on fire, buried one another, unmasked, etc., etc. It seems a little hard to call them a consecutive tag team from 1998-2015 given those circumstances.
Technically, we could put them on this list but it just doesn’t feel right. Executive decision, they aren’t included.
— Linus as a Service (@LinusRII) May 26, 2017
The surprise of all surprises. A team I would’ve never picked out of my head but, they could be our winner. Luke & Butch debuted with WWE in December 1988. While they never reached the success of the teams listed above, they did last with the company until September 1996 — putting them just under eight years total. In that time, the Bushwackers had 123 TV & PPV matches and 470 house show matches. The Bushwackers are an interesting case as they weren’t full-time WWE performers during this run, sometimes working on per-date deals and working indie shows between WWE shots. Obviously, a far different era than today. Still, it’s hard to find a lot of holes in their resume. They may not have been a weekly team, but it’s hard to find chunks of time from 1988-1996 where they weren’t on WWE TV or on a WWE house show. Both their TV and house show match totals are well below the Usos total matches but regardless, they do eclipse the Usos in terms of longevity, so we may have answered Alan’s question.
Unless something radically changes in the next few months, The Usos will move above The Bushwackers and take their rightful spot atop the list. Until then, all hail the kings of WWE tag team longevity: